The United States of America is a wonderful place. Full of wonder and hope and people who really (really!) love being American, more than they love just about anything.

Today is my first day back at work after a week in lovely southern Florida. As the greater West Palm Beach area’s streets are…let’s say unfriendly to pedestrians I was forced inside to the warm embrace of television. And that good cable greeted me with open arms! No American broadcaster made me feel more welcome than the vaunted MLB Network. We Canadians don’t know how badly we’re missing out. Sort of.

Here’s the thing with the MLB Network: it isn’t that good. It is a barrage of lists and talking heads generally no different than most all-sports formats. For every Jay Jaffe hit, there is Mitch Williams yucking it up or Kevin Millar existing and drawing a paycheque.

The channel seems to have no major advertisers as nearly every ad is a promo for some other MLBN show. They stretched the Hall of Fame discussion well beyond the point of credulity. As with any sport-specific channel looking to fill 24 hours a day of programming, that is sort of the point.

Which is what makes my criticism of the channel fall a little flat: I watched MLB Network at every single opportunity. I would watch it right this moment if I could. I would step over my own mother for the chance to watch it tonight when I get home.

Clubhouse Confidential, the advanced stats show, is easily the best thing I saw in the week or so I spent walking MLBN. Brian Kenny is a real pro and, despite being a little stern and overly serious, clearly believes in what he discusses. The cognitive dissonance of watching a flashy professional television program casually mention given player’s Wins Above Replacement is overwhelming.

Perhaps the channel would be better during the season but clearly it doesn’t need to be much better to rope in the hardcore viewers like myself. Could it get better? For my tastes, less Jon Heyman point-talking and more other people that aren’t Jon Heyman doing less rumor-peddling.

Of course, we Canadians don’t have direct access to this great and wondrous invention. The benevolent masters at One Mount Pleasant hold the license key that keeps this channel, or a CANCON’d equivalent, from our desperate baseball eyes. They are well within their rights to sit on it until they figure out how to best maximize their revenue. As the American counterpart demonstrates, the addicts will line up around the block.

Comments (18)

  1. Does this mean it’s time for me to get an American IP address, or do I wait for it like NFL Network…

  2. There are ways to get it if you’re creative and own a satellite dish…unfortunately, I’m neither

  3. Also, welcome back Drew

  4. It’s fucked up that Rogers, owners of the Blue Jays, refuses to start up its own baseball channel or bring MLB Network north of the border. One would think they’d have an interest in trying to grow their product.

    As someone who lived in the States and had access to the MLB Network, I think it’s great for the offseason but falls very flat during the season, when ESPN is just as baseball-addicted and has a nightly Baseball Tonight feature going.

    If I ever saw a Jays or Expos classic game on MLBN, though, it was impossible for me to change the channel. Impossible.

  5. Any chance they broadcast some winter ball on there? *hint at the Score.

  6. All Rogers would have to do is put basically the same show on the air here and replace one of the host segments with Jamie Campbell , Zaun & Mike Wilner. They could throw a few old Jays/Expos games in as well to bring the cancon ratio up. Cost them next to nothing but at least we can watch Swiss Chalet Chicken cooking!

  7. Don’t knock the rotisserie channel. Not quite fireplace channel but certainly better than sunset channel. The clouds move WAY too fast.

  8. I had no idea that you couldn’t get MLBN across the border. I agree that a lot of the content is bad, but I prefer it over ESPPN any day of the week. Some of the shows aren’t bad and it is the defacto channel to watch for me in the Summer when I get home from work.

  9. MLBNetwork is the ONLY reason I am currently paying for cable. It’s really your only source of baseball (in moving picture form) aside from the internet during these awful, awful winter months, when ESPN and other channels just stream Lebron Fucking James for hours on end.
    Although Mitch Williams and Harold Reynolds talk about the importance of pitcher wins, premium closers, “players that known how to play the game (eh, no shit?) and other moot points, the Network makes up for it with Clubhouse Confidential, 30 Teams in 30 Days and generally being non-biased (except they really, really seem to love the underdogs, namely the Tampa Bay Rays).
    Plus, the hosts are good. I hated Brian Kenny on Baseball Tonight (worst baseball show ever) but love him on CC and Quick Pitch, MLBN’s version of Baseball Tonight. Greg Amsinger and Matt Vasgersian are pretty solid, and Ahmed Fareed makes me feel better about being a short guy. I will admit, however, that the old-school baseball guys they employ (Williams, HR) are pretty out of touch with the modern game.
    Just, Jesus Christ…so much Jon Heyman and Ken Rosenthal. My god.

  10. You Canadians get The Fight Network, so it’s not like you’re complete losers by not getting MLB Network. *grumble grumble*

  11. I truly would watch it 24/7 if we had the access to the MLB Channel!! As a huge Red Sox Fan north of the border would be great to have access to full time baseball!

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